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CHAPTER 31

Nanotechnology and International Environmental Law: A Preliminary Assessment

Nanotechnology, the study of manipulating materials at the nanoscale, should no longer be treated or referred to as the ‘wonder of modern science’. This is because many of the predictions, based on laboratory findings, the researchers made and shared through scientific literature over the years are now being displayed on supermarket shelves. Nanotechnology and its applications promise limitless potential to solve many of the existing problems, including environmental problems relating to drinking water, energy, pest control and detection. It is not yet the right time to draw a conclusion as to the exact and precise behavior of the engineered nanomaterials in different media in the environment i.e. air, land and water. Nevertheless, based on some laboratory findings, the scientists and policy makers have forecast that a few popular engineered nanomaterials may have adverse effects on the environment, leading to environmental degradation. In the absence of any single comprehensive international instrument in this field, based on the cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment of products developed using nanoscale technology, this chapter shares a glimpse of the relevant existing international environmental law provisions. Relevant environmental law provisions of some of the countries that have nano-districts will also be highlighted. Possible challenges faced by the national and international regulators in terms of implementation of these legal provisions will be examined. Drawing an analogy with that of other emerging issues like biotechnology regulation, this chapter will next address the recent movement of various international bodies and NGOs and assess their activities in this regard. It will further discuss how these actors can perform their role more effectively and can contribute to exploiting the maximum benefits of nanotechnology, leading to attaining safe, sustainable and responsible development, causing the least harm to the environment.

Print publication date: 16 Nov 2016
Copyright year: 2017
Print ISBN: 978-1-78262-906-1
PDF eISBN: 978-1-78262-913-9
ePub eISBN: 978-1-78262-914-6
From the book series:
Detection Science